I have posted some of my trusted recipes, but the past couple of weeks really reminded me of how much I relay on pantry basics. DH looks in the pantry and sees a mess and nothing to eat, but I look at my pantry and see endless possibilities, much like I look in his shop and see a disaster, but he sees numerous projects beckoning. DH mentioned that he would like to help out more in the kitchen since I am working full-time now, and he is off 3 days during the work week. He wants to get really good at making several dinners, so he can always be a help in the kitchen.
Lately, I have been making a lot of white sauces to make macaroni and cheese, tuna casserole, Swedish meatballs, and lasagna to name a few. I have chosen to make my own white sauce rather than use canned cream of __________ (fill in the blank) soups. They are expensive and it only takes an extra 5 min. to make your own sauce. Plus, I have to say, homemade sauce tastes so much cleaner and fresher than the canned soups that you won't want to ever go back. The soups always have that chemical taste and just don't taste clean. I was at the store today and a can of the Western Family brand of cream of chicken soup was $1.18! Way too much to pay.
Now, DH is handy in the kitchen when it comes to making toast or heating up a can of chili. But for me to try and show him how to melt butter in the saucepan (which I didn't measure but eyeballed), and then whisk in flour (again, eyeballed), then stir with a whisk now and then for a couple of minutes to get the flour taste out, and then to add milk, yeah, again, without measuring, just until it looks right, is like me in his shop with power tools, a bolt, and a slab of wood. So, I told him I would whip up a batch of master mix and show him how easy it is to make.
It's easy, simple and economical, and tastes great! Here is my version of the mix. You can find variations on the internet. I also included ideas to make a cheese sauce, and condensed soups. I use this sauce as a base in many recipes that call for a white sauce, or condensed soups.
(white sauce mix)
4 C nonfat dry milk
1 C flour
¼ C corn starch
1 C butter or shortening (or a combination)
Combine all very well with a pastry blender, or better yet, with a food processor or mixer.
To use, combine 2/3 C Magic Mix with 1 ¼ to 1 ½ C water, and simmer until thick. You can start with less water and add more if you want a thinner sauce.
Store in your refrigerator in a coffee can. I add a piece of masking tape with the basic white sauce recipe.
2/3 C Magic Mix
1 ¼ C water
1-2 C shredded cheddar cheese (parmesan works well for an Alfredo sauce)
Combine Magic Mix and water over Med. Heat stirring until thick. Add cheese and stir until well blended. This is a good base for mac and cheese, or over pasta.
Cream of Chicken soup, condensed
1 C. Magic Mix
3/4 C. Chicken Broth (either from a can, bouillion, or liquid from canned chicken)
1 t. Dry Parsley
Dash of Onion Salt
Combine and stir over Med. Heat until thick. Use in recipes for condensed chicken soup.
Cream of Mushroom Soup, condensed
1 C Magic Mix
1 4.5 oz. can Mushroom pieces and stems, drain, but save liquid (or use dehydrated mushrooms and use leftover water)
1/4 C. Water + water from mushrooms (3/4 C total)
Dash of Onion Salt
1-2 drops Kitchen Bouqet, optional
Combine and stir over Med. Heat until thick. Use in recipes for condensed mushroom soup.
Cream of Celery Soup
1 C. Magic Mix
¾ C. Water from Cooking Celery
1 C. Chopped Celery, cooked and drained (or use dehydrated celery and use the water left over from hydrating the celery as my water)
Pinch of Celery Seed
1 t. Dry Parsley Flakes (optional)
Combine magic mix and water from cooking celery. Stir constantly over medium-high heat until it thickens. Add in celery, celery salt and parsley. Use in any recipe calling for canned Cream of Celery soup.